2011 Preseason Game 2: Studs/Duds

By Columnist Billy Needham

The second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field is in the books and several things stood out such as long sustained drives on offense, shoddy protection by our o-ine, surprising QB play, and a #6 WR who is really making a bid to make the squad. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 28-20 with a 14 point 4th quarter with big plays on offense and defense. The game gave us another chance to get our starters some cohesiveness, some backups a chance to prove themselves, and some bubble players a chance to scratch and claw their way onto a NFL team, whether it be the Packers or not. Here is a quick glance at who shined and whose light may be burning out……

STUD: Whoa, our QBs looked pretty great when they were not getting smashed in the backfield, but contrary to my last Studs/Duds, Graham Harrell looked like a completely different QB. He was poised, moved well in and outside of the pocket, showed great accuracy, and did a great job of leading the team. He went from a boy to a man with that beard and it showed on the field. He ended 7-9 for 81 yards and threw the game clinching TD with five minutes left in the game. The three QBs combined were 21-27 for 319 yards and 3 TDs. A very good night throwing the football by these guys!

DUD: Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, our offensive line was awful! They gave up four more sacks Friday night, totalling nine sacks through two games. McCarthy has got less than three weeks to get this shored up because the Saints love to blitz from everywhere, and Aaron Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the NFL but has to have help to let his receivers get open. Our 1st round pick Derek Sherrod was abused over and over again, and really looks like he needed the entire off-season to learn the quickness of the NFL. He was not alone though, our best lineman (Sitton) was also beaten for a sack but it was against a Pro Bowler (Dockett) but regardless, get it fixed guys!!!!!

STUD: Last week we saw our first glimpse of the young receivers, as Cobb showed us flashes of his playmaking skills, but he was outdone this week by our second year player, Chastin West. He racked up 5 catches for 134 yards including a 97 yards go route down the right side line. Flynn made a perfect throw and West caught it on the fly at the 25 yard line and out ran the corner the remaining 75 yards. It was a perfect connection and ignited the 4th quarter comeback. West is making a strong push to making a NFL squad, but the Packers would have to carry six receivers to accommodate which cuts them thin somewhere else or they have to trade someone. I do not believe either will happen, but the only two trade scenarios I can fathom is James Jones (newly signed 3 year deal, modest pay, almost lost him anyway) or Jordy Nelson (only one year left, may lose him after this year). I want neither gone but West would be cheap, and hungry to pair with Cobb for the foreseeable future.

DUD: Tim Masthay is looking unbelievable so far this training camp and preseason. He averaged 46.6 per punt against the Cardinals, following a 52.2 average the first game. He has been booming the ball, while still giving his coverage men good hang times. He has been near perfect at pinning the punt returner along the sidelines eliminating half of the field. It is hard to get real excited about a punter but he was a try out last season, and is now on his way to becoming a top tier punter.

STUD: While their stats were not explosive, our backup Inside Linebackers I have been nervous about have really shown to have a nose for the ball. Robert Francois and D.J. Smith have been flying all over the field and were in on more tackles than the stat sheet gave them credit for. Francois looked good blitzing the “A” gap and Smith had one good tackle for loss and had a hand in slowing down another in the backfield. They are still a little green, but I see promise in both of them.

DUD: Diondre Borel had a very costly fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half giving the Cardinals momentum right out of the gate. He returned the original kickoff and was tackled inside the 10 yard line, but a penalty on the kicking team gave the rookie another chance. He fielded it cleanly, actually made a few good cuts towards the left sideline, and proceeded to cough up the ball around the 30 yard line. Arizona capitalized on the mistake scoring a TD. It was not a very good showing for a young man trying to make a team. He also had zero catches in the middle of an aerial assault that saw 9 different receivers get in on the action.

STUD: A sort of new addition to the team stood out to me, and for a seven year veteran who has played for several teams, Howard Green has played like a true professional. This guy was playing well into the third quarter and he will probably be the starter in our base run defense. The team is more than likely playing him extensively to get him back into game shape, whatever that is for a 360 lb man, but he looked powerful, quick, and I think he will make a splash this season in our rotation.

DUD: For all the good thing Alex Green did, including a fantastic looking screen play he took for 25 yards inside the five yard line where he punched it in two plays later, his pass protection and blitz pickups left alot to be desired. He whiffed on Wisconsin’s own O’Brien Schofield and got Matt Flynn blindsided, causing a fumble Nance recovered, but we cannot have that happening to Aaron when the games count. He has been nagged by injuries, but potential alone should secure a roster spot and the chance to be the front runner to the 3rd down back.

Overall, it was a victory for the team, gave our coaches enough tape to give the LG spot to T.J. Lang, showed the world Chastin West, and gave the fans a fun Friday night!

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2 Responses to “2011 Preseason Game 2: Studs/Duds”

  1. derard says:

    Masthay is under dud.

  2. Billy Needham says:

    whoops, you are correct 🙂 It was late, so a victory gave me more studs than duds, my mistake. He has absolutely punted lights out so it was my error!

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